If you think that there couldn’t possibly be another way to tell the timeless story of the Prince of Darkness, guess again. From the creators of the wildly popular Sherlock and the rebooted Doctor Who comes Dracula, a mini-series joint venture between BBC One and Netflix. With its first frenetic trailer, it promises to be both gory and strangely beautiful, walking a fine line between pleasure and pain like creatures of the night always do.
Dracula has had the most adaptations of any literary figure on film and television, and Bram Stoker’s famous novel has been translated into 29 languages, bringing the quintessential version of the modern vampire to fans of horror for over a hundred years. While we wait impatiently for Winter to arrive and the release of this three-episode series, find out everything we know about it from the new trailer below!
10 DRACULA WILL BE PLAYED BY CLAES BANG
The Prince of Darkness himself will be played by Claes Bang, a Danish actor best known for 2017’s The Square, for which he won the European Film Award for Best Actor (making him the first Dane to do so). In Denmark, he’s known for his television and stage work, as well as being a musician.
Though we don’t see much of him, his Dracula appears suave and charming with a touch of menace to go with his sharp fangs and red eyes. He appears to have more in common with the late Christopher Lee’s interpretation of both an alluring and threatening aristocrat barely holding his inner beast at bay.
9 IT LOOKS LIKE A HAMMER HORROR FILM
England has a grand tradition of doing horror right, specifically through its extensive filmography through Hammer Film Productions. Started in 1934, it specialized in gothic horror films from the ’50s until the ’70s, starring such known British thespians as Sir Christopher Lee (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings) Peter Cushing (Star Wars), Vincent Price, and many others.
Hammer films were known for their moody cinematography, creepy ambiance, and often their sumptuous period costumes. BBC’s Dracula looks to be much the same, with an ominous creepy castle full of dark corridors, long shadows, and guttering candelabras.
8 IT’S STICKING TO CANON
It’s ironic that creators of BBC’s Sherlock have been tasked with creating BBC’s Dracula, since Sherlock Holmes holds the record for being the most frequently portrayed human literary character, having appeared in television and film 254 times. The most frequently portrayed literary character of all time however, goes to an inhuman being; Dracula has, in fact, appeared the most on-screen, a staggering 272 times.
Having been featured in so many adaptations, it’s hard to imagine telling the story of Dracula in a new way. This series looks to go back to basics being set in 1897, the year Bram Stoker wrote his novel featuring the famous vampire. It begins with the Count in his castle in Transylvania before he conspires to go to London to find a new feeding ground.
7 IT’S GOING TO GIVE YOU NIGHTMARES
Steven Moffat of Sherlock fame, who co-created the series with his fellow Sherlock writing partner Mark Gatiss, was adamant that the series should give horror fans nightmares and the trailer supports this. We see visceral images of dirty fingernails being peeled off at the root, as well as bloody hands clawing their way along dark hallways.
We also get shots of what looks like a corpse jerking its way out of a box, contorting itself into inhuman shapes as it lurches towards the camera. And finally, we see the Count himself grabbing the throat of a victim with his dirty nails as he flashes his fangs for a bite.
6 IT HAS SOME DARK HUMOR
While good horror gives you thrills and chills, great horror can also provide small morsels of comedy amid the harrowing darkness. A well-timed zinger can momentarily keep the impending doom at bay, if only for a moment. It also serves to lull viewers (and victims!) into a false sense of security.
Steven Moffat wanted to include a few laughs specifically so that you wouldn’t watch the series and feel “like the world is a miserable, wretched place“. Dracula purrs some gallows humor to an unidentified victim in the trailer, which also serves to make the Prince of Darkness more charming.
5 AND PLENTY OF ACTION
Part and parcel to a proper Dracula story is the pacing. As every Dracula adaptation knows, you can’t stick to parlor room drama only – the characters need to feel more fear. To accomplish this, the tension must be heightened by whatever is lurking in the shadows, fulfilled by a few dramatic chase scenes.
In the trailer, we see several spurts of action, from Jonathan Harker running through the halls of Dracula’s Castle, to a shootout aboard a sailing ship. We also see what looks like a few different zombies, and knife-wielding nuns. Suffice it to say, there’s more than enough to get our hearts racing and our blood pounding.
4 CRUCIFIXES, POSSESSION, SATANIC NURSES, OH MY!
Typically vampires and other creatures of the underworld have always been warded off by religious iconography. but this trailer is full of crucifixes, rosaries, and women who look like they’re wearing nun habits. Perhaps the Count has been able to bypass the affliction of holy relics.
The trailer doesn’t indicate if the stake-brandishing nuns are preparing to fight against Dracula, or they have been corrupted by the Dark Prince to do his dirty work. Some look as though they may be guarding the secret to his crypt, while others seem as though they may be preparing to expose it.
3 PLASTIC FANGS NEED NOT APPLY
With advancements in technology, gone are the days when Dracula was brought to life with a cheap set of plastic fangs and a cape. The recent adaptations of Dracula, such as NBC’s fantastic but short-lived Dracula series with Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the title role, and Universal’s Dark Universe origin film Dracula Untold with Luke Evans could properly explore the supernatural with stunning visuals.
BBC’s Dracula looks to have the same arresting visuals and gorgeous aesthetics, without a cheap drop of red corn syrup in sight. It looks as promising as any season of American Horror Story, even though it will sadly not be as long as the popular anthology series.
2 BEAUTIFUL CINEMATOGRAPHY
Throughout the admittedly short trailer, we’re treated to several gorgeous shots of interiors and exteriors of Dracula’s Castle, nestled deep within the Carpathian Mountains. We see their snow-covered peaks against a moonlit sky, with the sounds of shrieking bats providing a haunting atmosphere.
We also get shots of a dramatic ocean voyage, as a grand ship sets sale with a dangerous cargo aboard. We see several coffins and one that carries a re-animated corpse. It’s unclear whether the cargo is being sent to Transylvania or on its way to London, England. From just the few glimpses that we get, it’s clear the cinematography will enhance the chilling tone of the series greatly.
1 KEY FIGURES ARE MISSING
There are several key figures from Bram Stoker’s literary masterpiece that are missing from the first trailer. First, there is no appearance by the Three Sisters, the beautiful female vampires that seduce solicitor Jonathan Harker while he’s wandering around Dracula’s castle.
Next, there’s no sign of Dracula’s arch-nemesis, Abraham Van Helsing. We get one shot of an elderly gentleman with a beard, but he hardly seems like the stake-wielding vampire hunter of myth and legend. There is another young man firing a revolver aboard a ship, but it’s unclear who is in relation to the Count.